Monday, November 29, 2021

Book Review - Jeffrey Melnick

Dr. Melnick's book, on Kindle, was a Black Friday purchase for me. I paid $13.99 and received a $1.40 credit Amazon will screw me out of by not automatically applying it to the next Kindle purchase I make after I forget there's a code to retrieve or something similarly exhausting. 

In euros and rupees that's one million and seventeen million, respectively. Pounds I haven't worked out yet. I enjoyed Charles Manson's Creepy Crawl over a long weekend of endless Thanksgiving leftovers and football. 

Many Manson books start the same way. "Charles Manson was born on November 11th or 12th, 1934. His mother Kathleen was a dancehall girl specializing in the Lindy. She sold her private parts and little boy for draft beers and pickles from a barrel behind the bar. A head rolled down a set stairs in front of Kathleen once at the prison, blinked three or four times and said, 'Helter Skelter.'" 

Melnick graciously spares us that tiresome routine. It's been done to death and a lot of it is malarkey. I made genealogy trees for both Charlie and Mary's families and my findings support none of that red-haired prostitute business. The traveling head story I can neither confirm nor deny. Sounds fishy to me but what do I know? My job is removing heaving bosoms from romance novels and explaining how no one likes fifteen commas per sentence.  

I know this is a deal breaker for some readers but Melnick's book also lacks the secrets everyone craves about 8/8 and 8/9.  However, if you can look past his egregious omission, Melnick's book is an absolute page turner filled with endless citations that open conservatively a million rabbit holes if you're interested. From Allison Umminger:

"Jeffrey Melnick's Creepy Crawling is a compulsively-readable guide to the American fascination with the Manson Family. Expertly weaving psychology, sociology, history, and pop culture, Melnick's work covers everything from the Family's Freudian roots to its continued commodification, from Joan Didion to Nicki Minaj. We know the Manson Murders have been part of the cultural landscape for the past fifty years, but Melnick shows us why. The book is a must-read not only for those fascinated by the Manson Family, but anyone fascinated by America."—Allison Umminger, author of the highly acclaimed Manson novel American Girls

From author Dana Spiotta:
"A capacious, witty, and insightful take on how and why we are still so fascinated by Charles Manson and his Family. Melnick is a keen reader of high and low artifacts, and he is wonderfully precise in tracing all the Manson-related references and ramifications from 1969 to the present. He has a gift for presenting complex ideas in savvy, compelling prose. A must read not just for Manson aficionados but for anyone interested in recent American pop culture."--Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

I definitely had to look up capacious. The word simply does not exist in Ohio. 

CMCC is surely for you if you dig pop culture. If you've already read the book, I'm interested in your thoughts. Oddly, dude has Barbara Hoyt introducing Susan to Charlie in SF during the Summer of Love. Not sure if I noticed any other mistakes but that one made me chuckle. 

Melnick spends over five hundred pages discussing why we're still talking about Manson today. I sometimes think I know why I'm here. Nature/nurture. Sex. Drugs. Rock n roll. The warm California sun. 

And I mean who could walk away from all the love Donna Jean gets on the blog? Plus there's my spending account. The hearty email banter. My ability to click "Publish" when trolls can only post comments. 

But what about you? What keeps you in the Manson study or keeps you returning to it for periods of time?

Victim advocacy? Wanna save Sexy Sadie? Have a thing for black busses? Why this world out of all the others? Just as a side note, I will in no way judge you if you're in Manson because you like photos of naked women shooting machine guns. 

I have a second question today for anyone who wishes to participate. Pretend for a moment we're allowed to use the Magic 8 Ball (M8B) from Lookout Mountain. Not some knockoff from this Spencer Gifts 1969 Holiday Catalog. 
I'm talking the real M8B locked away deep within Counter Revolution HQ. Let's say Col Tate, Mae Brussell, Nixon, and Diana Ross approach you at a Benedict Canyon cocktail party and allow you to ask the M8B one single question that will be answered completely and truthfully. The only rule is you can't ask the reasons behind that bloody weekend in August of 1969. Anything else regarding Manson and ephemera is fair game. 

The biggest publishing house with world rights, and same goes for the Hollywood crew with the most juice worldwide, are waiting in the wings to make you the richest creator of all time if you can convincingly crack the cases. 

What do you ask the M8B?

Aside: The Ed Sullivan performance linked above is the Supremes' final tv appearance as a group. Diana was going solo even though their song was the top Soul Single in the country. Loneliness is a backup singer. 

Guenther and Whitely are out in Wisconsin leaning on Marioche and holding the Sword of Damocles above her head around the time the Ed Sullivan show first airs. Charlie enjoyed Christmas Dinner in the clink. I can't figure out where Pooh Bear is during the holiday season of 1969.  

Sword of Damocles is a great line but sadly not mine. I can't give the backstory because someone somewhere else in Manson will get mad at the person for saying hello to me and banish them from their realm for eternity. So goes life in this gory time tunnel where students of the crimes conduct their research alongside the envious and unhinged. 

Both of those words at various times are synonyms for Manson "expert" btw. Be shrewd all ye newbies. Check sources and install a rear-facing camera. A suit of armor probably isn't a bad idea, either. 

I think that's it for me this week. Melnick's book is one I wish I read sooner but I was off chasing other rabbits when he published. Enjoyed it regardless. Better late than never, I suppose. 

My world is open woods and oak leaves as we wrap up 2021 here in old Ohio. I know the holidays are rough on a lot of people but we will push through this month right here together. At least four more indecipherable posts are nearly ready in my drafts folder. Pop culture, music, hippie sex. Maybe even a Santa cap on Karate Sue.  

Please be kind to drive thru and retail workers this holiday season wherever you are. +ggw

If the fumes don't getcha, the 350° oven (176.7°) will.